Capitol Updates

NSEA Capitol Update – January 18, 2019

Week 2 of the Legislature: Buried in Bills

Eight days into this Legislative Session and senators have already introduced 478 bills and five constitutional amendments. There are two more days of bill introduction. Each bill will be referred to a committee and scheduled for a public hearing. For a complete list of all bills, click here.

Your NSEA Government Relations team reviews and makes recommendations on all bills of interest to educators. We encourage all feedback from members about the positions the NSEA might take. Hearings will begin Tuesday, Jan. 22.

Senators have been assigned to 14 standing committees – find the committee membership roster here.

State of the State Proposals

Gov. Pete Ricketts delivered his State of the State address on Tuesday, launching the two-year budget talks and highlighting his legislative agenda. Review his budget recommendations here.

The governor’s recommendations for 2019-2021 provide for two-year average growth in state appropriations of 3.1 percent. Highlights include the following:

  • Increases funding for K-12 education and higher education;
  • Full funding for Medicaid Expansion at an estimated $63.1 million;
  • Restoration of the general fund minimum reserve to 3 percent (from a current low of 2.5 percent);
  • Additional funding for the Property Tax Credit Fund; and,
  • No tax increases.

He proposes an increase to the state Property Tax Credit Fund from $224 million per year to $275 million per year.

The governor also proposed a constitutional amendment to place a 3 percent cap on the growth in the total amount of property tax raised by a political subdivision from one year to the next.

The proposed budget would fully fund the current state aid to education formula, increasing the aid amount to $1.1 billion.  If adopted, this would mean a 10.65 percent increase -- $103.8 million -- for the biennium in additional state support for K-12 schools. Special education funding would increase by $4.6 million, or 2 percent.

The governor would fund the university and state colleges’ request for salary and health care costs. Proposed General Fund operations for higher education would be:

  • University of Nebraska: a $15 Million, or 2.6% annual increase in FY 2019-20; then a $34.5 Million, or 6.0% increase FY 2020-21.
  • State Colleges: a $1.6 Million, or 3.1% annual increase in FY 2019-20; then a $3.2 Million, or 6.2% increase FY 2020-21.
  • Community College System: a $2 Million, or 2.0% annual increase in FY 2019-20; then a $4 Million, or 4.0% increase FY 2020-21.

Upcoming Legislative Hearings

Unless otherwise noted, hearings begin at 1:30 p.m. and are live-streamed via NET and can be accessed online by clicking here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Education Committee – Room 1525

LB115 (Blood) Change provisions related to enrollment of children of members of the military

NSEA Position: Support

Allows children of military families to enroll preliminarily in a school district if a parent presents evidence of military orders showing the family will be stationed in the state during the current or following school year. Also changes current law which allows children of military families residing on federal property to be admitted to any public school in any district in which the family is residing or in another district which is near or adjacent to the place where the member is stationed. Provides that children in military families residing on federal property will be considered to be residents of the district where the property is located.

LB6 (Blood) Change residency provisions for persons on active duty and dependents for college tuition

NSEA Position: Support

Changes student residency requirements for public postsecondary institutions. LB6 provides that if a student was on active duty assignment in Nebraska at the time the student was accepted for admission and has remained continually enrolled, then that student would be considered a resident for tuition purposes. Currently the student must be on active duty. LB6 also provides that the spouse of a student that was on active duty at the time the student was accepted for admission is also to be considered a resident.

LB122 (Crawford) Change postsecondary residency requirements for veterans, family, and other persons

NSEA Position: Support

Changes the residency requirement for public postsecondary education institutions as it relates to veterans, spouses and dependents. LB122 adds a new category to include a recipient of vocational rehabilitation program services as provided in 38 U.S.C. 3100 et seq. The vocational rehabilitation program services are provided to veterans with service connected disabilities.

LB73 (Erdman) Require display of the national motto in schools

NSEA Position: Monitor

Requires each school board in the state to display the national motto “In God We Trust” in each classroom or in another prominent place in each school building where each student can see and read it each school day. Schools may accept contributions to defray costs to implement the bill. The Attorney General is required to intervene on behalf of any school board or named party if a suit to invalidate the bill is filed in state or federal court.

Retirement Committee – Room 1507 (12:30pm)

LB33 (Kolterman) Change provisions relating to retirement, Nebraska Investment Council, and PERB

NSEA Position: Support

Amends several sections of law relating to retirement including exempting the Public Employees’ Retirement Board (PERB) from competitive bids for the compliance audit; the option to extend the contract for the annual actuarial audits an additional year; and increasing PERB’s per diems from $50 to $75. Grants the Class V School Employees Retirement Plan employer and its Board of Trustees the same exclusion from the Public Records Law that was placed into statute in 2009 for all Plans administered by the Public Employees Retirement Board. The only member information that could be released is the member’s name, the date the member began participating in the Plan and the date the member's participation in the Plan ended. All other personal member information would be exempted under the Public Records laws.